AFS 2015 Annual Meeting Update on the Westin Long Beach Labor Situation
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Posted by: Hannah Davis
AFS executive director Timothy Lloyd sent the following message to members and annual meeting registrants on July 29, 2015:
Dear AFS 2015 Annual Meeting Registrants,
Here is a late-July update on the labor situation at the Westin Long Beach. Unless there are new developments in this situation between now and the meeting — and the past 5+ months suggests very strongly that there will not be — this will be my last update to you on the subject.
1. Since my last email to you on May 28, there continues to be no movement by, or even discussion between, the Westin Long Beach and Unite Here toward resolution of the labor situation that divides them. Our advocacy with both the hotel and union in favor of such communication has had no effect.
2. We have tried to explore with Unite Here the possibility of holding discussions about laborlore and the cultural dimensions of this labor situation, but they have not responded to our inquiries.
3. We have tried to explore with the Westin the possibility of their agreeing to the union’s preferred method of unionization voting (card-check), but the hotel continues to hold the position that card-check creates opportunities for coercion and intimidation of workers. Unite Here continues to say the same about the hotel’s preferred voting method (secret ballot).
4. On-the-ground reports from Long Beach suggest that the demonstrations that were occasionally taking place outside the Westin are either no longer taking place, or taking place only very infrequently.
5. Unite Here’s campaign to contact our members seems to have been in abeyance for the last two months.
6. To date, 4% of those who originally registered for the meeting at the March 31 deadline have withdrawn.
As AFS President Michael Ann Williams and I previously noted, your Executive Board has made a commitment to use union-defined “fair” hotels whenever possible in the future, and to use language in future contracts that protects AFS by addressing not just strikes but labor situations that fall short of a strike. In doing so, we will use the model protective language that the union suggests. We also will not hold future annual meetings at Westin hotel properties.
AFS and its Cultural Diversity Committee have scheduled a trio of sessions and discussions on Thursday afternoon, October 15, at the Long Beach Public Library, two blocks from the Westin, that in part will focus on how our practices of community engagement at annual meetings can help us make more significant contributions to the communities in which we meet, and can improve cultural diversity in the Society and field. The Executive Board invites member comments about these and related issues at Saturday afternoon’s annual business meeting at the Westin.
If you have questions or comments now, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember that a complete digest of all news to date on this situation, including this message, is available on our web site at www.afsnet.org/?page=AM15WestinNews.
Thank you for your support of our Society and field, and for your understanding.
Tim Lloyd, Executive Director